All farms now exempt from payment for lakeshore pipeline
By Liz Dadson
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Kincardine council has approved an amendment to the lakeshore drinking water pipeline mandatory payment bylaw, exempting all farmland whether or not it has a residence on the property.
In committee-of-the-whole last night (June 18), treasurer Roxana Baumann explained that the current bylaw exempts all vacant farm properties.
She said the intent was not to exempt farm properties with residential dwellings because those could derive a future benefit from the water pipeline by connecting to the water system at a later date.
The intent was to permit farm properties to continue using their private wells to conduct their farming operations, said Baumann. If, in the future, their private well failed, the residential dwelling could connect to the pipeline and a new well could be drilled for the farming purposes.
However, at the June 11 meeting, council decided to exempt all farm properties from mandatory payment of the capital charge of about $7,200 each. Baumann said they will not be exempt from the fire capital charge of about $450 each if they are a benefiting fire property defined as all properties within a 1,000-foot radius of a fire hydrant.
She noted the amendment means six additional properties will be exempt from the mandatory charge, which results in a reduced payment of $43,564. Despite this full farm property exemption, she said, the $1.5-million in stranded debt will still be paid off.
Councillor Jacqueline Faubert said she will vote in favour of the amendment for the sake of the farmers, but she still disagrees with the mandatory payment bylaw.
She asked for clarification that the amendment includes all farm properties, and does not mean the farmhouse would have to hook up if the well fails in the future.
"With the amendment for all farm properties, if the well fails, there is no requirement for the residence to connect," said Baumann. "That is the intent. If a farm property is exempt, it is not a benefiting property."
In response to a question about a property that cannot connect to the pipeline so should be exempt from the payment as well, Baumann said there are going to be properties along the pipeline route where it doesn't make sense to hook up to the waterline.
'We will look at those properties on an individual basis," she said. "At the staff level, we are reviewing them all and a property would be exempt because it doesn't make sense - it has no access to the water."
Deputy mayor Anne Eadie, chairing the meeting in the absence of the mayor, said council must be fiscally responsible and pay off the stranded debt that has existed for more than 10 years.
"In most municipalities, property owners would pay a mandatory capital charge and a mandatory hook-up fee," she said. "We have come to a compromise in our bylaw, by charging only the capital charge, and providing financing of up to 10 years at a rate of four per cent."
The committee recommended approval of the amendment, which was given final approval in council session later in the meeting.
Meanwhile, a member of the audience asked to address the mandatory payment bylaw, and Eadie received agreement from council to allow her to speak.
Sharon Jackson presented a package of papers, indicating that council will be receiving more of them.
Each piece of paper, signed by a property owner, states that he/she is paying the mandatory payment, but reserves the right to challenge the bylaw in court.
"This leaves the legal field open if we decide to sue the municipality over a year period," said Jackson. "I hope you realize that this (mandatory payment) is a serious burden we have to bear."
She thanked the mayor and councillors Faubert, Randy Roppel and Mike Leggett for their support.
Following the meeting, chief administrative officer Murray Clarke said that individuals can challenge a municipal bylaw but are not required to make that statement in a document to council.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014